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Compliance Boot Camp Offers Undergrads Rare Look at Growing Field

January 13, 2016
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group of students and guest speakers at 2016 compliance bootcamp

2016 Compliance Boot Camp students and speakers

Fresh from a four-day Compliance Boot Camp at the School of Business Administration last year, then-Junior Perihan Elbadrawi strode confidently into an interview for a summer internship at JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. Armed with some basic knowledge and a grasp of the special vocabulary used in a field unfamiliar to most undergraduates, Elbadrawi not only snagged the compliance internship,  but also parlayed it into a full-time position upon graduation this spring.

“They don’t expect undergraduates to have this experience because it’s just not normally offered,” Elbadrawi said. “I was able to succeed in the interview because of the Compliance Boot Camp. I already had experience doing a case study and presenting it to professionals in the industry.”

Elbadrawi was thrilled to serve as the teaching assistant for this year’s module, which was co-taught by business law faculty members Anita Cava and Mark Shapiro.  For the third year in a row, about a dozen students come back to campus a week early from winter break to study the pillars of compliance theory and practice in the health care and financial industries, hear from professionals and make case presentations to them – all for free, thanks to generous support from an alumnus and additional funding from the University’s Center for International Business Education and Research.

“It’s about more than just learning compliance," said the donor, a recent School of Business graduate who prefers to remain anonymous.  “It’s about fostering ethical business behavior in students before they enter the workforce.  Thanks to programs like this one, they'll not only graduate with marketable skills and get the best jobs, but they'll also do the right thing when they get there.  We need more programs like it.”   

Professor Cava, director of the School of Business Administration’s Business Ethics Program, echoes this sentiment.  “Our generous donor appreciates that we are not only sowing the seeds of critical thinking and decision-making, but also exposing our high-performing, motivated students to new career options.  There are many entry-level compliance positions in health care and finance and, to my knowledge, there is no similar program being offered to undergraduate students in the country.”

The Compliance Boot Camp is the brainchild of Clivetty Martinez, vice president global compliance at Perrigo. While working on the School of Business’s Latin America Health Care Compliance Certificate Program with Cava a few years ago, she suggested the idea and the two worked together to develop it. Martinez flew in from Michigan to lead an interactive lecture on standard operating procedures, speak with students about what they could expect from a career in compliance and comment on their closing PowerPoint presentations. “I’m so pleased the program has taken off” she said. “These are high-quality students who are very engaged and interested in compliance as a possible career choice.  I was impressed with their grasp of compliance topics after participating in the boot camp.  Their ability to use compliance lingo will help them in interviews when seeking entry level positions in compliance. They will be able to answer interview questions in an intelligent manner.”

students working during bootcamp

Students working together during 2016 Compliance
Boot Camp

The students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, presented their analysis of real-life cases of compliance failures, offering suggestions for the companies involved. One group examined the lack of compliance procedures at HSBC from 2006 to 2012, which facilitated laundering of drug trafficking money and transactions with terrorist nations and resulted in nearly $2 billion in fines. The students suggested ways in which the bank might increase enforcement of compliance mechanisms, particularly among non-U.S. affiliates.  The group also addressed restructuring risk estimates.

“In compliance you have to have good communication skills. Your group didn’t have speaker notes, stood up in front of the audience, knew all of the acronyms and were able to communicate in a clear and concise way what the laws are,” Martinez told them. “That’s very impressive because those laws are very complicated.  In a real-life business environment, you have to be able to think on your feet.”

Kate Watt, senior manager with Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, also came to listen and offer feedback to students, who also addressed issues at GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Like Martinez, she left very impressed.

Sophomore Sarah Duque, who is majoring in finance and business law, agreed it was time well spent.  “I’ve learned a lot about what compliance actually is” she said. “I’m interested in the financial industry and the legal aspects of finance go hand in hand with my major, so I’m inspired to look more into financial compliance.”

The experts all agree that it’s a growing field ripe with opportunities. To this end, Shapiro will teach a new undergraduate business law course on compliance in fall 2016.

“Government regulation and enforcement is up throughout the world,” Martinez said. “Companies realize they need a good compliance program to manage risk, prevent and detect noncompliant activity.  For that program to work, you need people who understand the role of compliance. The compliance field is growing and industries will need more entry level talent to fill those positions. This boot camp will help students who are unaware of compliance learn more about it, and will serve as a fountain of new talent for companies looking to fill positions.”

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